- 6 June 2018
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AS9100 is the gold standard when it comes to compliance within the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry — and it’s something that any company working in or around this sector should consider.
Unlike the basic ISO 9001 standard that oversees general quality management across various industries, AS9100 is specific to the nuances of the A&D sector. In addition to ensuring quality management standards, third-party AS9100 auditors consider employee training procedures, data measurement, post-delivery support, and much more when granting companies this standard. With its increased specialization, AS9100 compliance means your company will be more competitive when operating in the global market.
Getting your company AS9100 compliant is time consuming — the standard adds more than 100 requirements to the baseline ISO 9001 standard that your company may already possess. You can expect the process to take six months from start to finish, although this period depends on your leadership, how many quality management standards your company already has in place, and your level of digitization in your business practices.
Here are four steps to prepare your company before seeking an AS9100 audit to achieve compliance.
1. Get Your Team on Board
Most of your staff members know about the importance of business compliance, but they may be less aware of what it means to them and their work role. Obtaining AS9100 standard is a process that needs to be managed by senior leadership, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your team out of the process.
A compliant company is one where a team works as a well-oiled machine to ensure quality, safety, and reliability in the workplace — as well as in the products they’re building. The latest version of AS9100 has been updated to include an awareness requirement, meaning each individual must understand the role they play in seeing a product through to completion.
Survey your team about their work processes. Ask them how they’d improve their own workflows, and incorporate these insights into optimizing your business processes. The AS9100 store has various resources available when it comes to including your team in the stages of compliance.
2. Consider Quality Management at Each Step
Many companies have an ad-hoc way of ensuring quality management. While this system may be working in the interim, it won’t be satisfactory for AS9100 auditors and may harm your business progress in the long-run.
Preparing for AS9100 compliance is an excellent time to polish your quality management standards at each step of the supply chain. This should include how your product is handled, product safety, counterfeit part protection, product realization, and the human factors that may influence all of the above.
3. Include Risk-Based Thinking
The products created by the A&D sector carry with them an inherent amount of risk, which is why risk-based thinking is addressed in the latest iteration of the AS9100 standard.
It is no longer enough for companies to be reactive when it comes to risk management — the current standard expects companies to incorporate preventative and proactive measures into business process from the beginning. Consider your existing processes for mitigating risk when preparing for your audit.
4. Use an Effective Recordkeeping System
Documentation is key in obtaining a high quality management standard. Third-party auditors rely on the records logged by your team in order to make their compliance assessment. It will be both time consuming and frustrating for them if these records are in a dozen different places.
This recordkeeping and coordination challenge is why many A&D companies are adopting a centralized enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. As a single system that records and stores quality management data across your entire supply chain and production operations, ERP solutions are built to ensure your company stays compliant. ERP systems aren’t just designed to make data accessible to auditors; they also ensure that best practices and steps are hardcoded into your business practices so your entire team works more efficiently.
Staying Compliant is Key to Staying Competitive
September 2018 brings some looming deadlines for companies wanting to become or remain AS9100 compliant. The existing standard, AS9100C, is transitioning to AS9100D, meaning all companies holding the “C” category must transition — or lose their compliance certification.
Adopting and adapting new business practices is a time consuming process, so begin taking steps today to prepare your company. Contact Cre8tive Technology and Design to learn how an ERP system can help you stay compliant with AS9100 and competitive in the A&D industry.